Michael A. Hoey, Producer, Director and Elvis Screenwriter, Dies at 79

Michael A. Hoey - P 2014
Courtesy of Dennis Hoey

Michael A. Hoey - P 2014

The son of a British actor, he also wrote, produced and helmed the 1966 film 'The Navy vs. the Night Monsters'

Michael A. Hoey, who wrote the screenplays for a pair of Elvis Presley films and was the architect behind the 1966 cult science-fiction movie The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, has died. He was 79.

Hoey, the son of English actor Dennis Hoey — who played the bumbling Inspector Lestrade in the 1940s Universal Pictures series of Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce — died Sunday of cancer at his home in San Clemente, Calif., his son Dennis told The Hollywood Reporter.

Michael Hoey also produced, wrote, directed and edited several episodes of the 1980s music drama series Fame, based on the Alan Parker box-office hit. He earned two Emmy Award nominations for his work on the show and wrote a behind-the-scenes book about the series that was published in 2010.

Hoey penned the scripts for the Presley films Stay Away, Joe and Live a Little, Love a Little, both released in 1968. For the latter, he worked with director Norman Taurog, who also helmed the teen comedy Palm Springs Weekend (1963), a film that Hoey produced.

In The Navy vs. the Night Monsters, a staff manning a weather station on an isolated island fights for survival against a carnivorous plant-like species that spews acid, moves around at night and reproduces quickly.

The cast included Anthony Eisely, Mamie Van Doren, Bobby Van and Billy Gray, best known as the son on Father Knows Best. Jack Broder produced (with an uncredited assist from Roger Corman) and gave the movie what Hoey once called its “abominable” title.

“I remember the day when I was rehearsing and Jack Broder walked in and announced what the new title was going to be,” Hoey told author Tom Weaver. “The entire cast was ready to walk out. They were furious.”

In the interview with Weaver, Hoey said the film had a 10-day shooting schedule and cost $178,000 to make.

Born in London and raised in Beverly Hills, Hoey began his Hollywood career as an editor, working for such top-notch directors as John Ford, George Cukor and Fred Zinnemann. Studio head Jack Warner made him a producer for Palm Springs Weekend, which starred Troy Donahue, Robert Conrad, Stefanie Powers and Connie Stevens.

Hoey later would direct episodes of Dallas, Falcon Crest, Murder, She Wrote and Crossroads Café; wrote for the shows The Rat Patrol, Get Christie Love! and McCloud; and served for years as executive producer of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

He also wrote the books Elvis, Sherlock and Me: How I Survived Growing Up In Hollywood; Sherlock Holmes and the Fabulous Faces: The Universal Pictures Repertory Company; and Elvis’ Favorite Director: The Amazing 52-Year Career of Norman Taurog.

He served two four-year terms as a governor on the board of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the WGA honored him with its prestigious Morgan Cox Award in 1997.

Hoey asked that his film books be donated to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he taught editing as an adjunct professor.

In addition to his son Dennis, a former Hollywood makeup artist and producer of TV commercials, survivors include his daughters Lauren and Karin.

The family plans a small memorial service, with his ashes scattered at sea.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4